WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 23 of 227

Here in New England the harbinger of spring found growing in the wild is our native willow, Salix discolor, the pussy willow, with pearly gray catkins heavily studding its stems. As soon as the golden stamens appear, the first native bees swarm around them in the sunshine gath- ering nectar and pollen, an important early food source. Willows are dioecious (male and female flowers occur on separate plants), and, of course, it is the males that have showier flowers. Although the early bees are out and about gathering food, the female catkins are generally unat- tractive to them so willows are not really insect pollinated, but rather it is left to the wind to do the job. When you go to purchase a willow make sure it is a male, so best to look for one when the plants are blooming in early spring. Closely related but not native is S. caprea, the florist's pussy willow, which has larger catkins; however, they are more sparsely distributed along the stems, and our native pussy willow has a daintier look. There is a weeping form suitable for smaller spaces — S. caprea 'Pendula,' also known as the Kilmarnock willow with silvery white catkins that really stand out along pendulous branches. Its diminutive form, six to eight feet, suits many landscapes. A willow with foliage more striking than its catkins is the dappled wil- low, S. integra 'Hakuro Nishiki,' with new leaves that are a froth of pink, white, and light green, all blended so that from a distance it looks covered 22 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 the green scene "bees swarm around them"

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